One of the small pleasures in life is doing something that you really didn't believe would ever be possible, but that has just happened to me when I paid a visit to the East Anglian Aviation Museum located in the village of Flixton, just outside the town of Bungay in the county of Suffolk, England. There, for the first time in my life I came face-to-face with a piece of my all-time favourite flying boat history; their beautifully restored cockpit section of a genuine Felixstowe F.5 flying boat. Wow, I thought as I gazed at it, just WOW!

Previously used as a garden shed (! - see the last image here) it was recovered and lovingly restored by the museum volunteers who made a superb job of it, as you can see.

Looking at it and touching it I was immediately struck by a number of things; the wood skin is so thin, much thinner than I had ever thought from seeing all the black & white images over the years and various plans and certainly only offered protection from the slipstream; it would never ever stop a bullet. Secondly, it is large and it's only when you get alongside it that you begin to realise just how big the Felixstowe 'boats were in size., something that is not readily apparent from a 1/72 scale kit. The other thought I had was the craftsmanship used in the original construction as the frames and longerons and the multiple stringers are exquisitely put together; just look at the interior structure, it's a work of art!

The restoration is one of the very, very, few surviving sections of any Felixstowe 'boat anywhere in the world - apart from the cut-away F.3 (?) example in the States - but certainly in the UK and Europe, there is nothing left. So, they must be heartily congratulated on having the foresight to undertake this work, doing it so well in the process.

Click here to go to the museum's website and if you find yourself looking for a museum to visit, you must go as there, as so much else is on display - it's packed with thousands of aviation related artefacts and real aircraft. Highly recommended.